Christian Ethics

World’s Greatest Anti-Racism, Restorative Justice Resource List

Ucc.org

As part of my UCC Sacred Conversations to End Racism (SC2ER) class, I collected these resources from online sources. Although I blatantly lifted them, I have cited the source links. It’s a lot~~so keep scrolling for the hot links!

I will start with resources on the UCC Racial Justice website, compiled by Rev. Dr. Velda Love https://www.ucc.org/racial_justice_resources_2020

Lynching Justice in America

The Cross and the Lynching Tree Webinar Video

READING RESOURCES

  1. Van Sertima, Ivan, They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America, (New York, NY: Random House, 1976).
  2. Ortiz, Paul. An African American and Latinx History of the United States. (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2018).
  3. Higginbotham, Leon A., Jr., Shades of Freedom: Racial Politics and Presumptions of the American Legal Process, (New York, NY: Oxford Press, 1996).
  4. Morrison, Toni, The Origins of Others, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017).
  5. Boesak, Allan Aubrey, Curtiss DeYoung, Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism, (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Book, 2012).
  6. DiAngelo, Robin, What Does It Mean To Be White? Developing White Racial Literacy, (Peter Lang Publishing, 2012).
    ________ White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People to Talk About Racism, (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2018).
  7. Resmaa, Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, (Central Recovery Press: Las Vegas, NV, 2017).
  8. Mills, Charles, The Racial Contract, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997).
  9. Baptist, Edward E., The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2014).
  10. Cerrotti, Dennis Lyle, Hidden Genocide, Hidden People. (Wellesley, MA: Sea Venture Press, 2014).
  11. Villanueva, Edgar, Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance. (Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2018).
  12. Newcomb, Steven T., Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery. (Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 2008).
  13. Katz, William Loren, Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage. (New York, NY: Atheneum Books, 2012).

VIDEO AND READING RESOURCES BELOW

  1. Ibram X. Kendi on the History of Racist Ideas in U.S. Stamped from the Beginning

Online Reading Resources

  1. Everyday Racial Microaggressions
    https://world-trust.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/7-Racial-Microagressions-in-Everyday-Life.pdf
  2. Coates, Ta-Nehisi, “The Case for Reparations,” The AtlanticJune 2014
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/.

THEOLOGIES, CHRISTOLOGIES, AND GOD OF CULTURES

Womanist Documentaries

  1. Journey to Liberation: The Legacy of Womanist Theology Legacy of Womanist Theology
  2. This is My Body: Black Womanist Christology in Perspective Black Womanist Christology in Perspective
  3. Eradicating Misogyny, Heterosexism, and Homophobia in Black Churches  Eradicating Misogyn, Heterosexism, and Homophobia in Black Churches
  4. Dr. Renita Weems: [Scream] Trayvon Martin Rev. Dr. Renita Weems Sermon “Scream” Trayvon Martin

Womanist Readings

  1. Introducing Womanist Theology – Stephanie Y. Mitchem
  2. An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation – Nyasha Junior
  3. Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenges to Womanist God-Talk – Delores S. Williams
  4. Enfleshing Freedom, body, race, and being, — M. Shawn Copeland
  5. Embracing the Spirit: Womanist Perspectives on Hope, Salvation & Transformation – Emile M. Townes
  6. Women Race and Class – Angela Davis
    Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the Foundations of a Movement

The James Cone Collection

  1. For My People: Black Theology and the Black Church: Black Theology and the Life of the Church (Bishop Henry McNeal Turner Studies in North American Black Book
  2. Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theologian
  3. A Black Theology of Liberation – Fourtieth Anniversary Edition
  4. Black Theology and Black Power
  5. God of the Oppressed

Latinx and Mujerista Resources

  1. Mujerista Theology – A Theology for the Twenty-First Century, Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz
  2. A Reader in Latina Feminist Theology: Religion and Justice, Maria Pilar Aquino
  3. Decolonizing Biblical Studies: A View from the Margins, A Postcolonial Commentary on the New Testament, Fernando F. Sergovia
  4. Racism and God-Talk: A Latino/A Perspective – Ruben Rosario Rodriguez
  5. The Ties That Bind: African American and Hispanic American/Latino/a Theologies in Dialogue – Anthony B. Pinn and Benjamin Valentin
  6. Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America – Juan Gonzalez

Asian and Asian American Resources

  1. Heart of the Cross: A Postcolonial Christology, Anne Joh
  2. Making Paper Cranes: Toward an Asian American Feminist Theology, Mihee Kim-Kort
  3. Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times, Soong Chan Rah
  4. Off the Menu: Asian and Asian North American Women’s Religion and Theology, Rita Brock
  5. Postcolonial Bible (Bible and Postcolonial), R.S. Sugirtharajah
  6. Voices from the Margins, R.S Sugirtharajah
  7. The Myth of the Model Minority: Asian Americans Facing Racism, Rosalind S. Chou and Joe Feagin

For more Racial Justice Resources and information contact Rev. Dr. Velda Love Lovev@ucc.org

Anti-Racist Reading List from Ibram X. Kendi

By: R Rattusnorvegicus Chicago Public Library Community-created list

“This anti-racist syllabus is for people realizing they were never taught how to be anti-racist. How to treat all the racial groups as equals. How to look at the racial inequity all around and look for the racist policies producing it, and the racist ideas veiling it. This list is for people beginning their anti-racist journey ..” Ibram X. Kendi (author of “How to Be an Antiracist”)

“A Reading List for Ralph Northam”. The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/02/antiracist-syllabus-governor-ralph-northam/582580/

Fatal Invention How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century by Roberts, Dorothy

Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Kendi, Ibram X.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by DiAngelo, Robin J.

Locking up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by Forman, James

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Angelou, Maya

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by X, Malcolm

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Mock, Janet

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Cooper, Brittney C.

Heavy: An American Memoir by Laymon, Kiese

The Fire Next Time by Baldwin, James

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Lorde, Audre

Between the World and Me by Coates, Ta-Nehisi

The Fire This Time by Kenan, Randall

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, From Womb to Grave, in the Building of A Nation by Berry, Daina Ramey

Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 by Foner, Eric

Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of of Black Americans From the Civil War to World War II by Blackmon, Douglas A.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Alexander, Michelle

The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America by Muhammad, Khalil Gibran

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Rothstein, Richard

The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit by Sugrue, Thomas J.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Wilkerson, Isabel

A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History by Theoharis, Jeanne

Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy by Dudziak, Mary L.

Too Heavy A Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994 by White, Deborah G.

When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Giddings, Paula

From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America by Hinton, Elizabeth Kai

Are Prisons Obsolete? by Davis, Angela Y.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Stevenson, Bryan

Roots by Haley, Alex

North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860 by Litwack, Leon F.

They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and A New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement by Lowery, Wesley

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta

Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America by Berman, Ari

One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy by Anderson, Carol

Antiracism: An Introduction by Zamalin, Alex

How To Be An Antiracist by Kendi, Ibram X.

The Racial Healing Handbook: Practical Activities to Help You Challenge Privilege, Confront Systemic Racism & Engage in Collective Healing by Singh, Anneliese A.

The Wellbeing Handbook for Overcoming Everyday Racism: How to Be Resilient in the Face of Discrimination and Microagressions by Cousins, Susan

The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness by Magee, Rhonda V.

The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America’s Law Enforcement by Horace, Matthew

Chokehold: Policing Black Men by Butler, Paul

Citizen: An American Lyric by Rankine, Claudia

Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul by Glaude, Eddie S.

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Cooper, Brittney C.

Fire Shut up in My Bones: A Memoir by Blow, Charles M.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in A World Made for Whiteness by Brown, Austin Channing

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become A Good Ancestor by Saad, Layla F

My Midnight Years: Surviving Jon Burge’s Police Torture Ring and Death Row by Kitchen, Ronald

No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black & Free in America by Moore, Darnell L.

On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope by Mckesson, DeRay

Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement : My Storory of Transformation and Hope by Woodfox, Albert

So You Want to Talk About Race by Oluo, Ijeoma

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Dyson, Michael Eric

Things That Make White People Uncomfortable by Bennett, Michael

This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (white) America by Jerkins, Morgan

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays by Young, Damon

When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Khan-Cullors, Patrisse

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race by Tatum, Beverly Daniel

Healing Racial Trauma: The Road to Resilience by Rowe, Sheila Wise

This Book Is Anti-racist by Jewell, Tiffany

I Am Not your Negro: A Major Motion Picture Directed by Raoul Peck by Baldwin, James

Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Glaude, Eddie S.

An Antiracist Reading List NY Times, compiled by Ibram X. Kendi

BIOLOGY

FATAL INVENTION: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century By Dorothy Roberts

No book destabilized my fraught notions of racial distinction and hierarchy — the belief that each race had different genes, diseases and natural abilities — more than this vigorous critique of the “biopolitics of race.” Roberts, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, shows unequivocally that all people are indeed created equal, despite political and economic special interests that keep trying to persuade us otherwise. New Press, 2011

ETHNICITY

WEST INDIAN IMMIGRANTS: A Black Success Story? By Suzanne Model

Some of the same forces have led Americans to believe that the recent success of black immigrants from the Caribbean proves either that racism does not exist or that the gap between African-Americans and other groups in income and wealth is their own fault. But Model’s meticulous study, emphasizing the self-selecting nature of the West Indians who emigrate to the United States, argues otherwise, showing me, a native of racially diverse New York City, how such notions — the foundation of ethnic racism — are unsupported by the facts. Russell Sage Foundation, 2008

BODY

THE CONDEMNATION OF BLACKNESS: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America By Khalil Gibran Muhammad

“Black” and “criminal” are as wedded in America as “star” and “spangled.” Muhammad’s book traces these ideas to the late 19th century, when racist policies led to the disproportionate arrest and incarceration of blacks, igniting urban whites’ fears and bequeathing tenaciously racist stereotypes. Harvard University, 2010

CULTURE

THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD By Zora Neale Hurston

Of course, the black body exists within a wider black culture — one Hurston portrayed with grace and insight in this seminal novel. She defies racist Americans who would standardize the cultures of white people or sanitize, eroticize, erase or assimilate those of blacks. 1937

BEHAVIOR

THE NEGRO ARTIST AND THE RACIAL MOUNTAIN By Langston Hughes

“We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame,” Hughes wrote nearly 100 years ago. “We know we are beautiful. And ugly too.” We are all imperfectly human, and these imperfections are also markers of human equality. The Nation, June 23, 1926

COLOR

THE BLUEST EYE By Toni Morrison

THE BLACKER THE BERRY By Wallace Thurman

Beautiful and hard-working black people come in all shades. If dark people have less it is not because they are less, a moral eloquently conveyed in these two classic novels, stirring explorations of colorism. 1970 | 1929

WHITENESS

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X By Malcolm X and Alex Haley

DYING OF WHITENESS: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland By Jonathan M. Metzl

Malcolm X began by adoring whiteness, grew to hate white people and, ultimately, despised the false concept of white superiority — a killer of people of color. And not only them: low- and middle-income white people too, as Metzl’s timely book shows, with its look at Trump-era policies that have unraveled the Affordable Care Act and contributed to rising gun suicide rates and lowered life expectancies. 1965 | Basic Books, 2019

BLACKNESS

LOCKING UP OUR OWN: Crime and Punishment in Black America By James Forman Jr.

Just as Metzl explains how seemingly pro-white policies are killing whites, Forman explains how blacks themselves abetted the mass incarceration of other blacks, beginning in the 1970s. Amid rising crime rates, black mayors, judges, prosecutors and police chiefs embraced tough-on-crime policies that they promoted as pro-black with tragic consequences for black America. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017 (Read the review.)

CLASS

BLACK MARXISM: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition By Cedric J. Robinson

Black America has been economically devastated by what Robinson calls racial capitalism. He chastises white Marxists (and black capitalists) for failing to acknowledge capitalism’s racial character, and for embracing as sufficient an interpretation of history founded on a European vision of class struggle. Zed Press, 1983

SPACES

WAITING ’TIL THE MIDNIGHT HOUR: A Narrative History of Black Power in America By Peniel E. Joseph

As racial capitalism deprives black communities of resources, assimilationists ignore or gentrify these same spaces in the name of “development” and “integration.” To be antiracist is not only to promote equity among racial groups, but also among their spaces, something the black power movement of the 1960s and 1970s understood well, as Joseph’s chronicle makes clear. Holt, 2006

GENDER

HOW WE GET FREE: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective Edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

WELL-READ BLACK GIRL: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves Edited by Glory Edim

I began my career studying, and too often admiring, activists who demanded black (male) power over black communities, including over black women, whom they placed on pedestals and under their feet. Black feminist literature, including these anthologies, helps us recognize black women “as human, levelly human,” as the Combahee River Collective demanded to be seen in 1977.

SEXUALITY

REDEFINING REALNESS: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock

I grew up in a Christian household thinking there was something abnormal and immoral about queer blacks. My racialized transphobia made Mock’s memoir an agonizing read — just as my racialized homophobia made Lorde’s essays and speeches a challenge. But pain often precedes healing.

Atria, 2014 | Crossing Press, 1984

By not running from the books that pain us, we can allow them to transform us. I ran from antiracist books most of my life. But now I can’t stop running after them — scrutinizing myself and my society, and in the process changing both. Ibram X. Kendi

Anti-Racism Resources: Educate Yourself https://www.projecthome.org/anti-racism-resources

Trainings & Courses

Articles and Essays

Resources for Parents and People Who Work with Children

Videos and Film

Podcasts and Audio

  • 1619 (NY Times Podcast)
  • Code Switch (NPR)
  • Show About Race (Panopoly)
  • Intersectionality Matters! (Kimberlé Crenshaw)
  • Momentum: A Race Forward (Color Lines)
  • Pod Save the People (Crooked Media)
  • Fare of the Free Child (Raising Free People)
  • Small Doses (Amanda Seales)
  • Therapy for Black Girls (Dr. Bradford)
  • Seeing White: Scene on Radio (Podcast series on whiteness)
  • Talking about Whiteness (Eula Bliss, On Being)

Social Media


Books

Where to begin (designed for white allies):

  • Me and White Supremacy, by Layla Saad
  • Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nahesi Coates
  • Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X. Kendi
  • How to Be An Anti-Racist, by Ibram X. Kendi  
  • So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race, by Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson
  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations about Race, by Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarnation in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander
  • Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice, by Paul Kivel
  • Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debby Irving
  • White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, by Tim Wise
  • Witnessing Whiteness, by Shelly Tochluk
  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism, by Robin Diangelo
  • Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color, by Andrea Ritchie

Going Deeper

  • killing rage: Ending Racism, by bell hooks
  • When They Call You a Terrorist, by Patrisse Cullors
  • Eloquent Rage, by Brittany Cooper
  • Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements, by Charlene A. Carruthers
  • Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
  • I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  • The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin
  • Learning to Be White: Money, Race and God in America, by Rev. Thandeka
  • The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
  • They Can’t Kill Us All, by Wesley Lower
  • Many here Ibram X. Kendi Antiracist reading List

Mental Health Resources

A Detailed List of Anti-Racism Resources

Book, movie recommendations, and more

By Katie Couric

JUNETEENTH RESOURCES

“What is Juneteenth?” by Derrick Bryson Taylor for the New York Times

“Juneteenth Is a Reminder That Freedom Wasn’t Just Handed Over,” by Brianna Holt for the New York Times

“No, Trump did not make Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating slavery’s end, ‘very famous,’” by DeNeen L. Brown for the Washington Post

Miss Juneteentha new movie about a former beauty queen and single mom preparing her rebellious teenage daughter for the “Miss Juneteenth” pageant in Texas

“Miss Juneteenth Exclusive with Nicole Beharie,” an interview with the star of Miss Juneteenth by Miles Marshall Lewis for Ebony

“Juneteenth by the Numbers,” by Toby Lyles for CNN

“The Johnsons Celebrate Juneteenth,” an episode of black-ish

“Juneteenth,” an episode of Atlanta

Juneteenth Jamboree,” a PBS series about the holiday

“An American Spring of Reckoning,” by Jelani Cobb in the New Yorker

The 1619 Project in the New York Times

“9 Books To Celebrate The Spirit of Juneteenth,” by Keyaira Boone for Essence

“The Belated National Embrace of Juneteenth,” an episode of Slate’s “What Next?” podcast

Spotify is celebrating Juneteenth by highlighting Black artists

The 2020 Juneteenth Virtual Music Festival is presenting a full-day of programming


WHAT TO READ

Articles:

Books:


WHAT TO WATCH

  • The Hate U Give, a film based on the YA novel offering an intimate portrait of race in America
  • Just Mercy, a film based on civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson’s work on death row in Alabama
  • The 1965 debatebetween James Baldwin and William F. Buckley
  • My hour on the history of Confederate statues in Nat Geo’s America Inside Out
  • Becoming,a Netflix documentary following Michelle Obama on her book tour
  • Let It Falla documentary looking at racial tensions in Los Angeles and the 1992 riots over LAPD officers’ brutal assault on Rodney King
  • When They See Us, a Netflix miniseries from Ava DuVernay about the Central Park Five
  • 13th, a Netflix documentary exposing racial inequality within the criminal justice system
  • I Am Not Your Negro, a documentary envisioning the book James Baldwin was never able to finish
  • Selma, a film that chronicles the marches of the Civil Rights Movement
  • Whose Streets?a documentary about the uprising in Ferguson
  • Fruitvale Station, a film with Michael B. Jordan about the killing of Oscar Grant
  • American Son, a film with Kerry Washington about an estranged interracial couple waiting for their missing son
  • The Central Park Five, a documentary from Ken Burns
  • A Class Divided, a Frontline documentary

WHAT TO FOLLOW

WHAT TO LISTEN TO

  • My podcast episode with Jamie Foxx, Michael B. Jordan, and Bryan Stevenson about Just Mercy
  • Still Processing, a New York Times culture podcast with Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morrison
  • Seeing White, a Scene on the Radio podcast
  • Code Switch, an NPR podcast tackling race from all angles
  • Jemele Hill is Unbothered, a podcast with award-winning journalist Jemele Hill
  • Hear To Slay, “the black feminist podcast of your dreams,” with Roxane Gay and Tressie McMillan Cottom
  • Pod Save The People, organizer and activist DeRay Mckesson explores news, culture, social justice, and politics with analysis from fellow activists Brittany Packnett, Sam Sinyangwe, and writer Dr. Clint Smith III
  • The Appeal, a podcast on criminal justice reform hosted by Adam Johnson
  • Justice In America, a podcast by Josie Duffy Rice and Clint Smith on criminal justice reform
  • Brené Brown with Ibram X. Kendi, a podcast episode on antiracism
  • Come Through, a WNYC podcast with Rebecca Carroll
  • The Kinswomen, conversations on race, racism, and allyship between women, hosted by Hannah Pechter and Yseult Polfliet

RESOURCES FOR KIDS AND TEENS

Watch

Read

Anti-Racism Resources

UNC Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Resources for parents to raise anti-racist children:

Books

Podcasts

Articles

Social Media

  • The Conscious Kid: follow them on Instagram and consider signing up for their Patreon

Additional Articles:

Videos to watch:

Podcasts to subscribe to:

Books to read:

Websites to Visit:

Films and TV series to watch:

  • 13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
  • American Son (Kenny Leon) — Netflix
  • The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution — Available to rent
  • Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975 — Available to rent
  • Clemency (Chinonye Chukwu) — Available to rent
  • Dear White People (Justin Simien) — Netflix
  • Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler) — Available to rent
  • I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin doc) — Available to rent or on Kanopy
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) — Hulu
  • Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton) — Available to rent
  • King In The Wilderness  — HBO
  • See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol) — Netflix
  • Selma (Ava DuVernay) — Available to rent
  • The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr.) — Hulu with Cinemax
  • When They See Us (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix

Organizations to follow on social media:

More anti-racism resources to check out:

Care for Black People:

The Promise of Forgiveness & Reconciliation, part 3

I call this last post The Promise Forgiveness & Reconciliation because I want to end on a hopeful note.

The Mystery of Forgiveness & Reconciliation, part 1

The Limits of Forgiveness & Reconciliation, part 2

I believe it is justifiably hopeful given the theory, theology, and practical parts of the topics. If I were going to teach a Sunday School class, or even present a lesson in a college education class, I would begin by scouring literature and web sites. I would, in the style of Worthington and Lederach, turn to case studies and current events. Much like these blog posts, the organization of a brief curriculum would be somewhat as follows:

  1. Introduction, Definition of Terms, Participant Questions
  2. Deeper Understandings: Contexts, Benefits, Limits
  3. The Scope of Forgiving and Reconciling: Interpersonal, Local, Global
  4. Putting It All Together, Where Do We Go From Here, Revisit Initial Questions

Peace Dove 1

I have included below Revisiting the 10 Practices of Just Peacemaking Theory by David P. Gushee (2019) from EthicsDaily.com. Developed by the late ethicist Glen Stassen. Although the practices reference peacemaking (which I use interchangeably with reconciliation, knowing there are differences) at the global setting, I believe they can be modified to allow us to act upon them locally.

  1. Support nonviolent direct action.
    Nonviolent direct action occurs when citizens confront injustice through peaceful public protests and other resistance strategies, including boycotts and strategic noncooperation. Practiced effectively by Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
  2. Take independent initiatives to reduce threat. 
  3. Use cooperative conflict resolution. These skills train adversaries to see each other as human beings with dignity and legitimate needs rather than as sub-humans whose every negotiating demand is illegitimate just because of how evil they are.
  4. Acknowledge responsibility for conflict and injustice; seek repentance and forgiveness.
  5. Promote democracy, human rights and religious liberty.
  6. Foster just and sustainable economic development. Hungry people easily become desperate and violent, and, when they rebel, their need is at least temporarily exacerbated.
  7. Work with emerging cooperative forces in the international system.It stands to reason that the more nations are involved in these webs of interaction, the less likely they are to make war.
  8. Strengthen the United Nations and international organizations.
  9. Reduce offensive weapons and weapons trade.
  10. Encourage grassroots peacemaking groups and voluntary associations. Everybody needs somebody looking over their shoulders to keep them in check. See the full article here

Peace, justice, dignity, equity, voice, and the resolution of conflict are the basis of reconciliation. What about forgiveness? Psychology Today states, “Forgiveness is the release of resentment or anger.” It does not mean reconciliation–no person or entity has to return to a harmful relationship. “Forgiveness is vitally important for the mental health of those who have been victimized. It propels people forward rather than keeping them emotionally engaged in an injustice or trauma.” It has physical, emotional, and psychological benefits, and has been shown to “elevate mood, enhance optimism, and guard against anger, stress, anxiety, and depression.” Forgiveness and Reconciliation are like a suit: you can wear the jacket and pants separately, but they also go together. Maintaining the distinction acknowledges the offended party (I am avoiding the word victim here). If this complicated process is worked prayerfully and diligently, there are situations where both are possible outcomes. Link to Psychology Today: Forgiveness

peace dove 2

The following is the beginnings of a collection of resources that I will add to over time.

  1. Duke Divinity School: Center for Reconciliation Resources https://divinity.duke.edu/initiatives/cfr/resources
  2. Peace Center for Forgiveness & Reconciliation http://www.choosetoforgive.org/
  3. The Forgiveness Project https://www.theforgivenessproject.com/
  4. Racial Equity Resource Guide http://www.racialequityresourceguide.org/organizations/organizations/sectionFilter/Racial%20Healing
  5. Racial Equity Institute https://www.racialequityinstitute.com/partner-organizations
  6. Reconciliation Ministry (Disciples of Christ) https://reconciliationministry.org/
  7. Conciliation Resources http://www.c-r.org/
  8. Truth and Reconciliation, Commission of Canada http://www.trc.ca/resources.html
  9. Community Tool Box https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/spirituality-and-community-building/forgiveness-and-reconciliation/main
  10. Center for Justice & Reconciliation http://restorativejustice.org/#sthash.i2cZEw7o.dpb
  11. Lederach, J.P. (2014) Reconcile: Conflict Transformation for Ordinary Christians. Virginia: Herald Press.
  12. Jones, G. (1995). Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
  13. Worthington, E.L. (2001). Forgiving and Reconciling: Bridges to Wholeness and Hope. Illinois: InterVarsity Press.
  14. Walker-Barnes, C. (2019). I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision for Racial Reconciliation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

 

asymmetrical-ethics

The Limits of Forgiveness & Reconciliation, part 2

I have heard horror stories of people in abusive relationships who have sought spiritual advise from their church leaders, only to be told that they should forgive their partners–forgive the verbal, psychological, physical abuse and/or infidelity, for example. They are told to forgive as God forgives (remember the theological model I mentioned in my last post?) The Mystery of Forgiveness & Reconciliation, part 1   People who have escaped relationships of abuse are even sometimes counseled to reconcile. Many years ago, I was divorced, and for years I had recurring nightmares that I was being forced to reconcile with my husband.

Forgiving and reconciling have limits that are dependent upon circumstances and injustice. I learned from my own experience that I forgive so that I can move forward, but nobody–not in dreams or consciousness–can make me reconcile.

Every kind of relationship includes relations of power, privilege, and politics–and these must be acknowledged. In The Politics of Apology and Forgiveness,  Joretta Marshall identifies five connections between power and forgiveness that I think are important. 1. The misuse of power invites power into a relationship. 2. The person who has the power to cause harm does not have equal power to require forgiveness—only to apologize and ask for forgiveness. 3. The giving or receiving of forgiveness, like an apology, cannot be coerced. 4. There is a dance between power and vulnerability in the forgiveness process. 5. Forgiveness emerges through the shifting of power in relationship. Forgiveness has its own subversive power in its potential for transformation.

In The Limits of Forgiveness, Norlock and Rumsey unpack the costs and limits of forgiveness, which are to be found in situations where “radical evil” exists. They argue that social and political recognition, including punishment of offenders and provisions for the economic and physical safety of victims, are requisite conditions” (p. 119). The authors demand that we critically analyze what we ask of those we expect to forgive offenders. What is that about? Forgiveness is fraught with complexity, and the existence of radical evil does not allow us the luxury of taking the process for granted.

I also discovered the book, Learning from the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil, by Susan Neiman. This text, which is the kind of reading I do for fun (me = nerd), examines the intentional efforts at “working through the past” by the German people—individually and collectively—in the wake of the Nazi Reich. She argues that the United States—White Southerners, in particular—can learn and take cues from the Germans, although the evil of slavery and Jim Crow is a different kind of evil than Nazism. She explicitly states that this is not a suggestion of comparative suffering or oppression, but one of comparative reconciliation. Thomas Jefferson, the embodiment of questions Americans must ask of ourselves, said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just and that his mercy cannot last forever.” When I think about forgiveness and reconciliation, radical evil and sin, power and privilege—and how these fit in the Kingdom of God, I tremble too. Germans book

So whether we are talking about relationships at the personal or global level–or anything in between–power relations are maintained and reproduced that are paramount to the nature of the relationship. They also affect the approach, expectations, and limitations in the process of forgiveness and reconciliation. Social categories such as race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, religion, ability, and cultural background also have great bearing on the process, particularly since these categories are socially constructed, fluid, and flexible.

 

On our last day together, our F&R class organized our thinking around F&R on the board (see below). These are our findings:

Forgiveness is…

  • an ongoing process, as illustrated by Jesus’s metaphor of 70 X 7
  • an array of both positive and negative emotions
  • effective in an “I/Thou” relationship, such as that believers have with God
  • Jesus like
  • difficult and takes time
  • requires faith
  • a gift of mercy–to self, God, others
  • an aspiration (most of the time)
  • good for us
  • Note: “unforgiveness” has psychological and biological consequences

Forgiveness is not

  • the same as reconciliation
  • requiring of an apology or repentance
  • enmeshment or codependency
  • cheap or therapeutic
  • just saying “I’m sorry”
  • explicitly Christian
  • always equitable
  • a denial of hurt
  • earned
  • excusing abuse or the perpetrator
  • performative
  • an option
  • transactional
  • a feel good fix

Equity

Reconciliation is…

  • contextual
  • requiring of repentance
  • requiring of truth telling
  • requiring of solidarity, space, and safety
  • interpersonal and intrapersonal
  • often mediated by a third party
  • a process that requires something of the parties
  • an aspirational
  • messy
  • often confrontational
  • dependent upon justice
  • not always possible

Reconciliation is not

  • the same as forgiveness
  • mandatory
  • the same on individual and systemic levels
  • always fast
  • happiness-inducing
  • solidifying
  • without risk
  • agreement
  • a social contract
  • accompanied by compensation or reparation
  • always possible

I will add that reconciliation is part of the peacemaking process. In my next post, I will share 10 Practices of Just Peacemaking Theory from EthicsDaily.com.

Blackboard Outline Forgiveness & Reconcilliation

The Mystery of Forgiveness & Reconciliation, part 1

Growing up, when I thought about forgiveness–which is ever present in a practicing Fundamentalist Christian’s life–I thought first about God so loving the world that he sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. For our forgiveness. When I thought of forgiveness apart from the Cross, I thought about Jesus’s quip to Peter about forgiving an offender 70 times 7 (Matt 18:22). I remember calculating it in my mind, which Peter probably also did.

This semester I took a class with Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes, whose new book, I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision of Racial Reconciliation, brings Womanist Wisdom “to describe how race and racism work, what reconciliation really looks like, and how faith can help us work toward it” (https://drchanequa.wordpress.com/2019/02/12/my-book-is-coming/). When you stop and think about it, each of those concepts–forgiveness and reconciliation–are huge. So full of meaning and implications that it was and continues to be daunting to me. My classmates and I spent 15 weeks grappling with texts and ideas; now I find it less daunting than profound. What I mean is that it is important to put forgiveness and reconciliation in practice and help others to do so, too. I know it was a good class because we are leaving it with more questions than when we began. Success is often measured by knowing enough to know what you don’t know. Our final project was to create a curriculum on forgiveness and/or reconciliation.

cwb

Dr. Walker-Barnes’s Book

From the time the project was assigned, I began to have trouble with it. I had writer’s block for curriculum development. I realize I still have some sorting out to do with the two-in-one concept, since, as Flannery O’Connor wrote, “I don’t know what I think until I red what I say.” In this post, I will briefly sketch an overview of an introductory segment on the concepts Forgiveness & Reconciliation. Should spaces for dialogue ever come up, here is where I would start.

First, it is important to note that Forgiveness & Reconciliation is a whole field of study with a growing body of literature. Typing in the words, “Forgiveness & Reconciliation” on Amazon, for example, yields 437 results. Type in those same words in Google, and more than twelve million results pop up. To be fair, “forgiveness” and “reconciliation” by themselves are intermingled with results for the pair. I found this to be the case in our class, too. The topics overlap, bleeding into each other, as it were, to the point where it is hard to see where one stops and the other begins. Entangled, jumbled. This is not inappropriate.

Dr. Walker-Barnes organized the course into engaging topics, and you can see the intricate threading throughout: Theologies of Forgiveness; Theologies of Reconciliation; Remembrance & Repentance; Power, Apology, & The Limits of Forgiveness; Trauma, Anger & the Failure of Reconciliation; Reconciliation or Liberation?; Reconciliation as a Spiritual Journey; and Psychological Perspectives on Forgiveness. We read texts by Gregory Jones, Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis; John Paul Lederach, Reconcile: Conflict Transformation for Ordinary Christians, and Everett Worthington, Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Theory and Application. There was a lot to read and talk about. If I were guiding a book talk on the subject, I would use some of the helpful strategies and models from these texts, developed by peace workers who walk the walk. Dr. Walker-Barnes’ book was published after our class had begun, so we only had a teaser chapter from it. It’s now on my Christmas break reading list!

The semester was spent painstakingly unraveling meanings. Here are some key points.

  1. Christians not only have an obligation to practice forgiveness, we also have a model. God forgives us.
  2. There are distinctions between forgiveness and reconciliation, even though they are a good matched set.
  3. Both forgiveness and reconciliation have important and often frustrating limits. If we know them going in, we will not have our expectations dashed.
  4.  Historically–both within Christianity and without–forgiveness and reconciliation have been abused, misused, oppressive, and suppressive. Survivors of interpersonal and/or systemic trauma/conflict narrate the journey to forgiveness and reconciliation. Survivors remind us of the high stakes involved in forgiveness and reconciliation; their voices are critical  to how we practice.

To further muddle my thinking, you have to consider forgiveness according to its various levels. Are we talking about forgiving another person? Groups of people? A whole country? What about reconciling? Couples reconcile (or don’t). Friends can too. Different cultures can reconcile–like in South Africa. People can be reconciled to God. I have to reconcile within myself. The scope is incredible.

I will end my overview with this: our participation in the divine life, that is, how believers exist in the world, is wrapped up in the tremendous Mystery. The gift and responsibility of forgiveness–and yes, reconciliation, too–are part of that mystery. And it is part of most believers’ theology. For example, while there are many subjects Jesus never mentioned, he was explicit about forgiveness: do it. So, as complicated and perplexing as forgiveness and reconciliation can be, it helps to approach them as sacred process.

Below is a picture of our white board from the last day of class, where we summed up what we had learned. In my next post, I will summarize them in talking points.

Blackboard Outline Forgiveness & Reconcilliation

 

Race, Religion, and the Lost Cause: Observation from the National ONA Gathering

Today is June 19th, Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when news of Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier finally reached enslaved persons in Texas. It coincides with the National Gathering of the UCC Open & Affirming National Gathering and a Race and Religion course assignment on whether the Lost Cause still exists in the South today. All things work together, and it is fitting.

When I was a kid my parents took my little brother and me to Shiloh National Military Park. This began and strengthened my fascination with the Civil War. Other Southern writers have written about how prominently Civil War lore figured into their childhoods, how it shape their psyches as Southern men. No major battles took place in Alabama like in Virginia and Tennessee, so my parents—who took exactly one vacation in their lives and it was NOT to the beach—hauled us on a day trip to Shiloh. We saw the exhibits with artifacts from the battlefield: bullets, bayonets, buttons. We saw a film that mapped out the two-day fight from April 6-7, 1862, the bloodiest battle until Antietam five months later. It remains the sixth on the top ten list. We walked around sites so horrific they had been named: Hornets Nest and Bloody Pond, water colored red by soldiers’ blood. At the end of the day, my parents took us to the gift shop, where we were each allowed one souvenir. My brother and I  got the same memento—a confederate private’s cap. We did not even consider the Union blue cap of the yankees.

Ku Klux Klan, KKK, Southern, Civil War, Lynching, Nostalgia, Lost Cause, Reconstruction

I think perhaps the Lost Cause takes on a different meaning for working class Southerners than it had for the old plantation class that evolved into wealth obtained from industry and later, investment. For us, the Lost Cause equated with the tragic romanticism of the lost war. The South is a contested place; it is a place looked down upon by those outside—and sometimes inside—of it. During the tour, my brother and I cheered for the Shiloh story of Day 1, that went to the confederates. On the second day, Grant’s reinforcements arrived, Albert Sidney Johnston was shot, and the battle went to the Union. The feeling I had then is similar to the physical and emotional drain I feel after the University of Alabama loses a big game to Auburn. It is real disappointment that I feel for the rest of the day. Our land had been invaded and we had lost. That was my lost cause, and its symbols took on religious meanings—the Stars and Bars battle flag, the gallant General Lee upon his steed Traveler (yes, I know the horse’s name), and of course, Dixie, our hymn.

Constructing the Lost Cause narrative so strong that is part of the psyche of Southerners who have no discernable connection to the Old South other than geographic location required a national comprehensive campaign. So the question to consider is, in whose interest was it to create the Lost Cause as an organizing theme? The white plantation class, supported by southern newspapers convinced poor whites that they were whiter than they were poor; thus, they allied with the people who looked like them. We continue to do this today, voting and allying against our economic interests because they are white. Northern and Southern Protestants turned defeated confederates into defeated Christians as the Lost Cause became a vehicle for Southern Redemption—redemption that was religious, social, and political.

Yesterday, I attended a session at the UCC Open and Affirming (ONA) National Gathering in Milwaukee, called Offensive Faith: Queering the Playbook for Religious Engagement. Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart, of the National LGBTQ Task Force stressed the intersectionality present in dismantling systems of gender and sexuality oppression. People of color are disproportionately affected by violence in this country; the same is true for gender violence. One of the pictures she shared prompted my reflections here, connecting religion, the Lost Cause, and racial (and gendered) violence. I look at it now and am offended, yes, but I see it and know that the stirrings of nostalgia I also feel seeing the old black and white photo that could have been taken at Littleville Elementary School, where I grew up a confederate child. My nostalgia is a fruit of white privilege, and so too is offensive.

The second photo Rev. Leapheart shared will likely offend Lost Causers—not only them, it will offend many other white people. I think when we as a people can be offended by both images because they stand for a history of racial violence in which religion has been complicit—then we might hope for redemption.

Please also take time to visit the National LGBTQ Task Force web site and read about their All of Me. All the Time campaign for the Equality Act. They have this description:

The National LGBTQ Task Force educates federal policymakers about the need for non-discrimination protections that ensure the whole person is able to advocate for themselves when discriminated against, wherever that discrimination takes place. We work with a wide range of progressive partner organizations across the country both at the state and federal level, like the National Black Justice Coalition. The Task Force shifts the conversation from a political and technical one to a national and inclusive conversation based on morals and values.

National LGBTQ Task Force

Our Lady of Ferguson, Mark Dukes, Black, African American, Police Violence, Police Shootings, Black Madonna

 

A Game of Thrones Travelogue: Or, Finding Community in a LaQuinta in Orlando, Florida

Like all GoT fans, Sarah and I had been awaiting Season 8 for two years. For the last month, we’ve been organizing our weeks around Sunday nights at 9:00. We’ve organized our Sundays around that one hour. This week, for the series finale, we had a minor change to our normal routine of gathering around our tv with tailgating snacks. We were in Orlando for a math conference. No problem~~we’d just watch it on HBO at the hotel. On Friday night, we discovered the LaQuinta provided complimentary Showtime. Not HBO. We had 48 hours.

Saturday was spent researching, me poolside and Sarah from a panel session. We called Buffalo Wild Wings, who was running commercials nationwide showing the Mother of Dragons. This probably meant they were going to have their monitors blaring with the final episode. Nope~~they didn’t have an HBO subscription. Could we live stream through our cable provider? Apparently not unless we were in proximity of our cable box. Did we know anybody who actually 1) lived in Orlando and 2) had HBO? Time was running out! Game of Thrones, GoT, LaQuinta, Orlando, Florida, Community, Entertainment

Thanks to Google, we discovered HBO Go and made plans to stream on our laptop that evening. Since Sarah’s high school friend–an engineer–was hanging out with us, we’d watch in the lobby. It was the best we could do. We started set up early, an hour ahead of time. Putting our heads together to make the most of our viewing environment, we got up our courage to ask the receptionist if she might dim lights and lower the volume of the lobby monitor blasting out Men In Black, which she was clearly watching from the desk. I was elected to ask.

“Lights? No problem!” replied desk clerk Julie to my first request. “I’ll dim what I can.” “Would you like to hook up the computer to our HDMI cable so you can watch it on the big tv?” A viewing event was going to happen after all! We grabbed the engineer and it was ON! Lights dimmed and the three of us planted ourselves on the comfortable LaQuinta lobby furniture just as the announcer began, Previously, on Game of Thrones. 

Then a woman walked by and saw Lord Tyrion walking through the ruins of King’s Landing, above. “Oh my God, it’s ON!” We invited her to join us. She ran down the hall and returned with a hotel pillow. “Hi, I’m Sandy,” she said, not waiting for returned introductions as she snuggled in. Sarah texted her math pal Laurie, also at the LaQuinta, to join us; she appeared, giddy with excitement. The family checking in turned and looked at us and the tv. Their teenage daughter drifted over as her mom said, “Yeah, you can just stay right here and watch.” The teenager took a seat at a table behind us, on the margin. “Come on, join us~~it’s ok!” She took a seat on the couch. Sarah made a mad dash to the room to grab our road trip snacks–grapes, Triscuits, Babybel cheese.

We were, for that hour, persons of a common union, communing around an entertainment event. Sentimental sap that I am, I looked at us, and it felt good, comfortable. We didn’t talk~~except when Sarah’s friend enthusiastically punctuated each scene with a question. Is Lady Brienne pregnant?? Is Jon going to kill her?? I heard there’s a poison chalice!! There’s one in every community, and we love them anyway. Sandy’s phone buzzed non-stop, except when it was ringing. She eventually tucked it under the pillow. And, keep in mind we were in a hotel lobby; I’m heartened to know the Orlando LaQuinta is doing such good business from 9:00-10:00pm on a Sunday night. There was a steady stream of check-ins.

As the last scene faded and the credits started to roll, Julie turned the lights back up. As if on cue, our little viewing community began to stir, turning away from the big screen, where we had–finally–found out who would rule the 7 Kingdoms (sort of, fans will know what I mean) and watched Arya head west of Westeros. The most some of us could utter was, wow. Although some elaborated with expressions of disbelief–or validated predictions, whichever.

Our little band milled around, gathered up our belongings, and began to drift off. “A selfie~~we need a selfie!” Sarah insisted. “Gather around, everybody.” I looked at the teenager, “What’s your name?” “Chelsea,” she grinned. Game of Thrones, GoT, LaQuinta, Orlando, Florida, Community, Television

Communities are like families: they come in different shapes and sizes. Sometimes we don’t get to choose its members. They give us a sense of belonging, if only for an hour in a hotel lobby. They can be chosen, but sometimes they form spontaneously. Sometimes they are temporary, like this one, never to be exactly replicated again. Thinking about it now, my heart is warmed, and its strings are tugged. I hope it happens again and again, random people who share a few moments. I think world peace and reconciliation could happen that way, friendly gatherings. Maybe not over tv; maybe over food or sports. Is that naive? Yes, of course. But there is something child-like in naivety–an openness to wonder and whimsey, to connecting. As a concluding thought, I was going to do as I usually do and end with a well-placed quote from Game of Thrones, but upon checking, I couldn’t find one that captured the spirit of anything other than violent-war-and-slaughter or mockery. So I settled on one of hopefulness and determination and purity of heart and, well, of openness–not unlike the promise of community. Hold the door!

Inflaming the Christian Right: Franklin Graham, Pete Buttigieg, and Changing Our Mind

It should come as no surprise that they’re coming for Pete Buttigieg. He’s smart, frank, funny, personable, courageous~~everything in a politician that would constitute a threat to the one of the least popular incumbent presidents history. Strategically that’s why he’s already under attack. How he’s under attack represents low hanging fruit politically. Pete Buttigieg is a gay man. It’s low hanging fruit because this fact inflames–really inflames–the roughly 25% of Evangelical Christians in America who make up the president’s strongest base.

On April 25, 2019, Franklin Graham Tweeted (naturally) a response to Buttigieg’s candidacy, “God doesn’t have a political party. But God does have commandments, laws & standards. Mayor Buttigieg says he’s a gay Christian. As a Christian I believe the Bible which defines homosexuality as sin, something to be repentant of, not something to be flaunted, praised or politicized….”

Pete and Chasten Pic

Pete and Chasten

Earlier in April, an NBC report suggested that Graham’s view is out of sync with that of most Americans. Polling data indicate that almost 70% of Americans would be either  “enthusiastic” or “comfortable” voting for a gay or lesbian candidate (USA Today). The remaining 30% is Trump’s hard core base and includes the 25% Evangelicals who enthusiastically support him regardless of evidence of impropriety. The Fox News/fake news true believers. My people.

I come from generations of Fundamentalist Christians, growing up in the Church of Christ~~a denomination that historically refrained from political engagement beyond the civic duty to vote. But even voting was private~~between you and God. We believed that “rendering unto Caesar” meant that our faith was personal and would come full circle on Judgement Day. All of that began to change with the campaign of 1980, when Ronald Reagan challenged the Son of a so-called New South, Jimmy Carter. Precisely because our denomination had not been political, the shift was very noticeable.

On April 26, David Gushee, Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics at the McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, and Director of its Center for Theology and Public Life, spoke with CNN’s Don Lemon in response to Graham’s Twitter attack. Gushee’s book Changing Our Mind traces his personal and theological journey toward inclusion of LGBTQ Christians (it’s in my Kindle as we speak!). (Franklin’s remarks, incidentally, make Changing Our Mind doubly applicable in light of the United Methodist Church’s February 2019 decision to exclude LGBTQ members from ordination and marriage.) A disclaimer: I am a student at McAfee working toward an MDiv and certificate in Christian Ethics, and I will take Christian Sexual Ethics with Dr. Gushee in the spring. His ethics are grounded in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount and outlined in the seminal book on the subject: Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context (2016), co-written with the late Dr. Glen Stassen. Although he wouldn’t do it because of his ethical convictions, I would put David Gushee’s understanding of Jesus’s teachings up against Franklin Graham any day. But again, I have a dog in the hunt.

I had an “ah-ha!” moment as the CNN interview concluded:

LEMON: ...I think it’s interesting that you say that the Christian right has been in the grip of the Republican Party for 40 years now and it’s getting worse….

Forty years. Reagan, the Moral Majority, Trickle Down Economics, strengthening the military-industrial complex, unregulated capitalism, corporate tax cuts~~the most significant political and economic ideological shift in U.S. history~~and I was there. I saw. From the pews of a little country church in North Alabama. My people~~those 25% die hard Trump supporters~~were the strategic targets of the Republican machine in 1980, and we remain in its grip today. I am not suggesting we are absolved of our complicity; we have not yet repented of our collective sin of racism, for example. I’m saying the Republican Machine (not persons who vote Republican, whom we love as Jesus loves) is like a crooked preacher: it knows the Bible well and uses it to sway the sheep. It uses cultural context or insists on literalism, whichever best advances its agenda–which is, again, to inflame good people to vote. Over nearly half a century, it has accomplished an astonishing goal, really: creating god in a Republican image and we, my people, worship at its feet. That’s called idolatry, y’all. Gushee’s Kingdom Ethics suggests a different way, a Jesus way, to do politics together as a people, but to see it we will have to melt the Golden Calf of the Republican god.

My people believe~~really believe~~that electing a gay man as president will doom the U.S. as God turn’s His (no gender free God here!) back on us. In fact, we see plenty of examples of how He is already exacting His punishment on us as a call to repentance~~a call to return to being a Christian Nation, God’s U.S. chosen people. I know a good man~~a Godly man~~who believes God is sending a meteor toward Earth as retribution. “We better turn back to God,” he says, “or He will destroy this sinful nation!” When Franklin Graham reminds Evangelicals that God’s “laws, commandments, and standards” supersede political parties, he gives them no option save worshiping the carefully crafted Calf. And yes, he precisely politicized Buttigieg’s sexuality. I know what my people will say to an interpretation of scripture toward a new Christian Ethic where Pete is evaluated as a candidate by his qualifications rather than as a person based on his sexuality. They will say, “Even the demons believe, and tremble” (James 2:19). They will be suspicious; they will believe they are being tricked by fast talkers and twisting scriptures. They will gather more closely around the Calf.

Changing Our Mind Cover

In a speech in early April, Pete said his relationship with Chasten had made him “more compassionate, more understanding, more self-aware and more decent.” He then directly addressed Mr. Pence, “as one man of faith talking to another,” the New York Times aptly puts it: “And yes, Mr. Vice President, it has moved me closer to God.”

That’s my favorite part because I identify with it. My relationship isn’t just a good fit in which I found a life companion~~it has brought me, in-relation, closer to God. It is in my relationship that I can feel the kind of love that God pours down on us, the kind God expects us to pour on each other. Not only that, it inspires me to act with love and compassion to others~~that’s pretty big! Jesus Ethics can be planted and take root in places where we talk to one another about compassion and decency and relationships that bring us closer to God. We can change our minds and decide to love.

Kingdom Ethics

David Gushee with CNN’s Don Lemon on Franklin Graham’s attack on LGBTQ Christians

USA Today: Franklin Graham calls on Pete Buttigieg to repent for the ‘sin’ of being gay

NYT: Pete Buttigieg, Gay and Christian, Challenges Religious Right on Their Own Turf

Remembering Sri Lanka on Earth Day 2019: A Lament Psalm

Update: CBS News confirmed that an Islamist extremist group claims responsibility as retaliation for the NZ Christchurch bombing. Seems ISIS and the locals are vying for top spot. So my musing is this: if “Islamic Extremist Groups” are terrorists, then are white nationalists who wear red MAGA hats also? They’re playing with and off each other right now. Endgame is the same.

Earth Day 2019
Warrior God. God of the victor David. It is with humble defiance I approach you, calling in my part of the covenant you have with your people~~all of us. Yesterday, at the moment 31% of the inhabitants of this planet shouted Hallelujah, Christ is Risen!, 290 souls on a tiny speck of it were blown up as they worshipped you. Five hundred more were wounded in this execution, 2,000 years after the one we remember. Terrorists, the news tells us. A local Sri Lankan group who couldn’t figure out how to coordinate and carry out a mass murder were provided resources by an international group who made suicide bombers out of them. The local attackers learned well; Sri Lankans know terror today—right at this moment—terror in the dreadful feeling, in the knowing, that it might not be over. Terror leads to terror and death to death. The story is familiar.

Enough, enough.

Loving God. David’s Good Shepherd. In the cruelest irony, today is Earth Day. This is the day that activists and poets alike remind us that we are destroying the very ground we live on, the very air we breathe. We are indiscriminate in our destruction, though, for we also kill each other. Christ is risen, indeed. So I will repeat the words of the prophet, How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? (Hab 1:2). And I ask all of us who praised the Cosmic Easter Bunny yesterday, just what in the world has Christ risen for? Grant us peace on earth, or at least grant that we may want to want it, for peace leads to peace and love to love. I trust you from the depth of my soul. When it comes to this, I do not really have a choice. Amen.

See Thoughts on Prayer Following the Christchurch Massacre

BBC Report on Sri Lanka Bombings

(Un)Holy Saturday: A Community Lament Psalm

dark cross

It is Holy Saturday, God, the day good Christians celebrate Jesus’s body lying in the tomb while his soul descended into hell, the Harrowing of Hell, they call it. Holy Saturday is coming home from a funeral. Everybody is exhausted, and the loss is starting to get real. You have to eat~~people have brought food~~but you are not hungry, might never be hungry again. After Big Mama’s funeral, I sat at the familiar kitchen table with her old friends, who told stories. Those of us at the table laughed until we cried, but the sisters—my mother and Lois and Mary and Judy and Barbara—were in the dark bedroom where their mother had taken her last breath; they did not laugh. They could hardly hold themselves up, so they held each other. It was raw and ugly, and if any of them had dared, they might have cursed you, God. They were groaning in their utter desolation. Holy Saturday started like that, with women holding vigil in their sorrow.

There is another word I first (and pretty much only) heard in the Bible: iniquity. Iniquity is to wickedness what groaning is to grieving. You are good, God, and trust in your goodness outweighs my worry; but my fundamentalist conscience tells me our United States will give an accounting for our iniquity. We sin together, all of us: we are inhospitable to neighbors at our borders, we march in hatred to maintain an apartheid state, and we lay offerings at the feed of corporate gods. We do not merely turn our heads as our poor fight to live—and often lose the fight—but we defiantly jut out our chins at them because they got what they had coming. It helps that they are different colors than we are. We incarcerate young men of color to prove our point. We busy ourselves with what goes on in one room of the house—the bedroom—with little concern with what goes on in the rest of your world. Longsuffering God, batter our hearts, as the poet cried (John Donne). Lay us bare again so that in our nakedness the only place our eyes can turn is to you. On this Holy Saturday, harrow our souls toward reconciliation with you as we keep vigil for the terrifying Resurrection we (don’t) know is coming. Amen.

Louisiana Black Church Fires: A Psalm of Community Lament

Holy God, we must speak the names. St. Mary Baptist. Greater Union Baptist. Mount Pleasant Baptist. Louisiana smolders. In the names and the smoke our sin is manifest. We do not speak of their pain because the pain is their own—it belongs to their hearts. We do not get to cry those tears. Theirs is not our story to tell. Our story is a 21-year-old in an orange jump suit staring back at the camera. “His dad has been a sheriff for a number of years, he’s a good fellow,” said a state congressman. “My understanding is the son has had a troubled past.” Yes. Sons of the South have troubled pasts. “Not guilty,” he pleads. It is we who need to plea, yet ours can be no other than guilty. In 1963, two other sets of eyes looked back at the camera, in Birmingham; our pasts are troubled. “I tremble for my country,” Jefferson said, “when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” Louisiana burns, God, and we tremble in our transgression. Do you yet sleep?

Church Ruins

God, we trust you~~that we are not condemned to forever suffer the consequences of our sin by perpetuating evil. At the hearing, the 21-year-old arsonist’s father, the deputy, left the courtroom in tears. What did he cry for? His “good boy”? A lost youth? A youth lost? His boy took pictures of himself. Pouring gasoline. With a blazing building. Among the ruins. He claimed this.

God of justice, God of righteousness, we trust you and we offer you all praise~~but we do not know exactly what to ask you. Has nothing been asked before? Have we not prayed for forgiveness? Have we not prayed for good relations? Have we not prayed white prayers that our white children would not detect our locked-away resentment of freedom ringing? Correct us. Guide our hearts to pray those prayers. Awaken your justice, God, and direct us toward reconciliation and love—discernible in the photographed eyes looking back at us. Amen.

Church Ruins 2

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